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A place she can call home

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Fort Smith (Aug 26/02) - It's been nearly a year and a half since Rev. Ann Bush arrived in Fort Smith from England.

And she hopes to be in the community for many years to come.

NNSL Photo

Rev. Ann Bush stands in front of St. John's Anglican Church in Fort Smith. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

"It's home," she says.

Before Bush arrived, St. John's Anglican Church had been without a full-time minister for two years, and the parishioners were very happy to see her. She was greeted at the airport by a group carrying welcoming signs.

"It's been wonderful," she says of her new life in Canada's North. "None of my first impressions of Fort Smith have been dashed at all."

In particular, she says the people of the town have been very friendly and welcoming to her and husband, Gordon.

Bush -- who was born in South Africa and schooled in Kenya -- says she expected life to be very rugged in the Northwest Territories, but that is not what she has discovered.

"I think I was surprised by how well organized and established the community of Fort Smith is with all the resources for our residents."

When she first arrived, Bush says she allowed time for the parish to get to know her and vice versa.

Since then, she has taken on extra duties as a minister. Among other things, she has taught a course on Christianity and offered retreats for women, both for all denominations.

She has also begun counselling as she did in England, where her work included a year as chaplain in a top-security, adult male prison and later at a young offenders institute.

Bush has found Northerners to be more open to spiritual growth than people in England, where she says, "You have to break through the old British reserve."

Bush, 54, says she loves her work as a minister in Fort Smith.

"As long as the parish wants me here, I'm happy to stay."